A Ghaziabad court Friday granted the Chhattisgarh Police transit remand of journalist Vinod Verma, who was arrested over allegations of blackmail and extortion. The senior journalist will be taken to Raipur where he will be presented before a court. Verma, who earlier worked with BBC Hindi service and Amar Ujala, today said he was being framed and that he had nothing to with a CD that allegedly contains a sex video involving a Chhattisgarh minister.
The senior journalist, in a statement to ANI, said he has a CD of Rajesh Munat and that’s why the government was worried. Earlier in the day, he was taken to the Indirapuram Police Station at 3.30 am, where the police questioned him for hours. Meanwhile, the Congress today accused BJP of squeezing press freedom and demanded the immediate release of the scribe. Senior Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken also demanded a judicial probe into the “serious sex-related allegations” against a Chhattisgarh minister, which, he added, were being investigated by the journalist.
According to sources, Verma was allegedly ppossessinga sex tape of a senior Chhattisgarh minister and is alleged to have made extortion calls to the minister. According to the Raipur Police, Verma was arrested following a complaint lodged by Chhattisgarh BJP leader Prakash Bajaj on October 26. Bajaj, in his complaint, said a caller claimed to be in possession of objectionable videos and that he threatened to make them public if he (the minister) did not pay up. Sources in the Chhattisgarh government admitted that the arrest was related to a video that was in Verma’s possession. Also Read: Arrested journalist Vinod Verma: ‘I’m being framed, have nothing to do with sex CD of Chhattisgarh minister’
A member of the Editors’ Guild of India and a freelance journalist, Verma has also worked with the BBC and Amar Ujala. According to sources, he is now a consultant to Chhattisgarh Congress president Bhupesh Baghel and shuttles between Raipur and New Delhi.
In March 2016, Verma, along with two other journalists, was part of a fact-finding committee to verify and assess the arrests of journalists in Chhattisgarh as well as threats and challenges faced by journalists in the state. The committee found that journalists were “working under tremendous pressure”. There was a “sense of fear” among journalists in the conflict-affected region of Bastar and even those working in the state capital Raipur complained of their phones being tapped, the report stated.
(With PTI inputs)
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